The advent of smartphones and iPads has heralded a new era in technology, however the next era may not be so far away with the mainstream release of Google Glass expected in the near future.
What is Google Glass? Well, it is a headset device described as a ‘wearable computer.’ Much like a pair of glasses, only the lens on one frame is a tiny ‘screen’ through which you’ll be able to check Facebook, Twitter, read the news or film videos – much like the functions of your current, handheld smartphone.
Are we on track for a future where computerised headwear is the norm?
Prototypes were released to outside developers in 2013, in order to attract companies willing to produce applications for the product, alongside Google’s usual suspects such as Google Maps, Google+ and Gmail. Under a program known as ‘Explorer,’ people around the world who had registered interest were selected to become ‘explorers’ and test out the product as consumers. 18 months ago, Time magazine named Google Glass as one of the ‘Best Inventions of the Year.’
On the product’s website, explorer stories are available which provide a peak into the potential abilities of Glass. In one story, a firefighter is seen being alerted to a building in trouble through the device, and then accessing the building’s floorplan on demand whilst responding to the fire.
In another story, pro US tennis player Bethanie Mattek-Sands organises her life through the device, accessing her daily schedule, travel itinerary and even recipes whilst cooking. She also films whilst playing tennis, providing direct insight into a pro athlete’s visual perspective.
When I first heard about Google Glass, it seemed like the kind of device I would dream about when I was ten years old, fresh after a viewing of Back to the Future, wondering if amazing technology would happen in my lifetime. It appears that it has – and it’s a little scary.
Little mainstream attention has been given to Google Glass thus far outside technology publications, primarily because it will not be readily available in the immediate future. Development of the product, and the Explorer program are still ongoing. Plus, with a cost of around US$1,500 to become an explorer, it forecasts a device that will be initially sold at a hefty price. Many may not be willing to fork out the dough for what is essentially, a piece of headwear on steroids.
However as with what occurred to computers and smartphones, prices are likely to become generally more affordable over time, opening the product to consumers and allowing it to be embraced at the same level as smartphone technology has been. The question is, do consumers want to embrace a product that still seems so futuristic? Is it too much for this generation to stomach?
It is a common site these days to ride on public transport, walk in a park or even down a busy street and find so many people in your surroundings with their head down, reading the news, checking social media or jack all on their smartphone. Are we on track for a future where computerised headwear is the norm? Given the almost sudden explosion of smartphone ubiquity in recent years, it’s not out of the question. And exciting, if not slightly eerie.
Time will tell if such a product is even practical. If it proves to be as ubiquitous as intended, successful and widely used – then amazement over the current abilities of smartphones will be nothing compared to the technological revolution that we may be on the verge of with Google Glass.